The Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited (PHRC) is yet to commence operation despite assurances by authorities that it will come on stream about two weeks ago.

Citizens have been made to believe that the coming on board of the Port Harcourt refinery, which had been moribund for decades, and subsequently others in Warri and Kaduna, will ease energy crisis in the country and ultimately halt importation.

Stakeholders believe that with pumping oil for domestic consumption from the government-owned refineries, and additional support from the Dangote refinery, Nigeria and its people stand to gain more in terms of forex inflow, which had been grossly depleted by importation.

Recall that the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari had on March 28, told the Senate that the Port Harcourt refinery will begin to deliver refined petroleum products in two weeks, just as he assured Nigerians that the rehabilitation of the refineries would be completed on schedule.

It is now over two weeks since the deadline elapsed.

Kyari also disclosed that the Warri refinery was almost ready too, while the refinery in Kaduna would be completed and ready to go into production in December this year.

He said that the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery had been completed, having passed its “completion mechanical procedure.”

He had said: “The Mechanical Completion means that you are done with your rehabilitation work, now you are to test if this completion is okay.”

Contacted Tuesday, the NNPL Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Olufemi Soneye said regulatory and compliance tests were the only reason keeping the Port Harcourt refinery from commencing full operations.

He said: “The Port Harcourt refinery has received crude oil, and it has been stocked in the facility. All crude lines are currently active. Regulatory and compliance tests are underway as we speak, and once they are completed, the refinery will commence operations. This adherence to best practices is recognised worldwide.”

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) had on February 12, announced on its website that it had completed the supply of over 475,000 barrels of crude oil to the Port Harcourt refinery from the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal, a joint venture asset operated by SPDC.

Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria and Managing Director, SPDC Dr Osagie Okunbor, said, “With this supply restart, the refining capacity of in-country is expected to come back to life and make petroleum products readily available while reducing Nigeria’s dependence on imported refined products.”

Speaking on the resumed crude supply, the terminal’s Installation Manager, Odita Nnajiofor, said the success of the crude supply restart is indeed a significant step in the nation’s renewed efforts to utilise key infrastructure to assure the steady supply of products from the refining company to the Nigerian market.

According to Nnajiofor, “Before implementing the supplies of the product to the refining company, the project teams first assured the integrity of the supply pipelines and the terminal’s export pumps which had been shut down for an extended period.” These actions, he explained, resulted in the successful and safe completion of the refinery supply with no harm to people and environment.